Gempei Asama, a support member from certified public accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC involved with business operations of the Center
Aoyama Start-up Acceleration Center (ASAC)
In order to bring about innovation in industry, human resources with the same drive and aspirations must work together, aggressively setting up innovative new businesses while engaging in mutual competition, which requires establishing an environment where entrepreneurs can make great advancements.
To this end, as one measure to support new start-ups, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government opened a new type of start-up assistance facility “Aoyama Start-up Acceleration Center (ASAC)” on November 2, 2015, providing a short-term intensive development program menu and the opportunity and place for making great strides, for start-up ventures that can lead to the resolution of policy issues facing the government, and for entrepreneurs in fields where it is difficult to deploy venture capital investment.
Business operations of this facility are consigned to certified public accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC, and we interviewed Gempei Asama, CPA.
Aoyama Start-up Acceleration Center (ASAC) is implementing what is called the “Acceleration Program”, which is a roughly 5-month short-term intensive development program, and at the time of inauguration in 2015 welcomed its first class comprised of 10 young venture firms. Entrepreneurs planning to start-up a new firm, and those with less than 3 years since founding are targets of the program.
Start-up ventures that can lead to the resolution of policy issues facing the government mentioned at the beginning include development of female entrepreneurs as well as healthcare, etc., areas the government is promoting for growth. At the same time, fields where it is difficult to deploy venture capital investment include social and Monozukuri (manufacturing) start-ups, etc. which require long investment periods and have low profitability.
In addition to the criteria above, the 10 firms in the first class were selected mainly as ventures at the stage of releasing new products and services, entering the period to grow sales going forward.
The Acceleration Program implemented by ASAC is supported by an extremely wide-reaching human relations network. One example includes senior entrepreneurs (less than 10 years since founding) who occupy the same Center. Senior entrepreneurs act as advisors, and through interaction and mentoring, provide support for brushing up business plans of students in the program.
The presence of mentors is a further source of encouragement. Mentors refer to external supporters who become consultation partners for venture firms, reaching as many as roughly 100 individuals including those in charge of new businesses in large companies, institutions related to local governments, media, venture capital and industry experts, etc. from diverse backgrounds, who provide support for businesses of program students becoming successful.
The term “open innovation” has been attracting attention. Open innovation refers to opening up resources held by large companies to venture firms through forming tie-ups, with a view towards raising the development speed of new products and services, and for venture firms with limited resources, tie-ups with large companies often hold the key to success. ASAC aims to become a real platform between venture firms and large companies.
In addition, ASAC is tasked with backing up the Revised Government and Public Office Demand Law which was amended in July 2015. The Revised Law prioritizes venture firms (SMEs) when government agencies place orders with the private sector for goods and services, and promoting this initiative is expected to lead to the support of program students going forward.
Co-working space that becomes an activities base for program students
Multi-purpose event space used for presentations, etc.
An incubation office occupied by a senior entrepreneur
Consultation room for interaction between classmates and senior entrepreneurs etc
Also equipped with sleeping quarters and laundry facilities. Those who express a desire can stay overnight
ASAC is in a prime location in the office building “Cosmos Aoyama SOUTH Tower,” 3-5F, which is 7-minute walk from the Tokyo Metro Omotesando Station (Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line), and 12-minute walk from the Shibuya Station. Shibuya is also known as “Japan’s Silicon Valley,” and provides an attractive environment for fostering venture firms.
“America’s Silicon Valley forms an ‘eco-system’ for mainly venture firms with venture capitals, media and supporters, etc. Eco-system refers to a mechanism where growth of venture firms is supported by related parties having mutual and broad relationships, and by fully leveraging its convenient location near Shibuya, ASAC aims to form Tokyo’s, and by definition, Japan’s eco-system.”